The story begins with a line, an impression left by a brush moving rhythmically over an absorbent white paper. The lines are strategically placed in a predetermined order, building a Chinese word. Various aspects of the Chinese writing system from tools, technique, movement patterns to compositional tendencies across the five calligraphic styles are analyzed using line drawings, video, and stop action frame grabs. The drawings are not instructional, but serve as an introduction to the artistic process and the very culture that developed the art. 

Movement and time are important themes in Chinese art. Chinese aesthetics is influenced by Daoist practices and the contents in a brush painting must exude life or convey vitality. The Daoist used the line to symbolize change. The line is also the fundamental element in all Chinese brush painting. Change means "a transfer of states," and brush technique shifts from one gesture to another. In calligraphy, rhythmic variations within a line animates its contents. Two types of movement: the broad sweep and the pause exists simultaneously in every line, causing friction between momentum and inertia. The distance between pauses represents time and the various stroke widths indicate speed. This reciprocity of opposite conditions is best defined as ‘shi,’ a term used in numerous strategic manuals. ‘Shi’ represents a dynamic logic, where a position is defined by the most advantageous outcome.  But the Chinese character is also a descriptor of historic time. Brush calligraphy is a two thousand year old practice, and Chinese characters in its present form incorporates all past forms and techniques. Style choices reflect the purpose of the work and the artist’s personal preferences. Furthermore, various environmental and emotional factors influence the piece’s overall effect. A piece of calligraphy is a route map showing the hand and brush in motion and a relic from a moment of creativity at a specific time and place in history.